I have lived exactly 6 days and 5 nights with my parents in-laws in their home in Bulandshehar (somewhere in UP). And they have lived for 14 days and 13 nights at my home in Mumbai.

Their forthcoming visit (starting June 9)will be my third (post marriage) meeting with them. Quite predictably, I’m jittery and nervous and to add to my woes, I am being constantly reminded that it’s my ‘inspection time.’ (courtesy friends and everyone around me) Worse, I followed an advert link on my Google homepage that led me to this.

“Partners will have expectations of continued involvement with each of his family member, which can result in you (that’s me) having to develop cordial relationships with his mother, father, and siblings – regardless of your feelings about them. In addition, these people have all had a relationship with shared memories — good and bad — that are not part of your relationship. This alone can trigger uncomfortable feelings for someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), as BPs may have a great deal of difficulty knowing how to relate to these seemingly random people.”

This piece of information led me to think and reason about my increased sensitivity to rejection, which also make me think that my in-laws could be unhappy with me or even reject. So, what does that mean? Am I the one with BPD…when did that happen? Did my marriage turn me into a BPD?

A deep breath. The post is to highlight how anxious an average married woman feels when her in-laws come visiting. And it has nothing to do with arranged or love marriage. In my case, (as my husband lists) it is about whether they will approve of my domain –my home.
“It is the anxiety and much-created hype around the relationship that takes its toll,” explains my husband.

To an extent he is correct. He estimated my mental state, after he saw the groceries that I had bought, in anticipation of my in-laws’ arrival. My kitchen now has extra dinner sets, an array of ready-made meals (in case the food is burnt or too salted or too oily) along with a more-than-sufficient ration of pulses and best Basmati rice.

My own explanation to this “in-law phobia” is probably the difference in upbringing (between me and my husband’s). I know that every family has its own values, traditions and routines. Everything, from the way children should be brought up to how housework should be done, is deeply ingrained in a unique family blueprint. And as far as I see, my in-laws’ blueprint is very different from mine. This predictable strikes off a set of differences of opinion and problems.

I know, from my mother-in-law’s last visit, that she does not expect me to return home from a hectic work day to slave off in kitchen. She in fact, keeps a hot meal ready by the time I reach home, a luxury for any working woman. My father-in-law, who loves his morning walks, loves to go out with me for a peaceful walk. I am not expected to prance around in sarees, although I know they would ideally like to see me in a traditional Indian outfit once in a while. They like my cooking and say it too. We have never had a disagreement among ourselves.

I do feel that my mother-in-law does have a softer corner for my husband (over me), but can I really blame her for that? Doesn’t my mother display a more than affectionate side when she comes visiting me? And, if all the above are true, then why do I still feel anxious?


8 thoughts on “Parents-by-law

  1. Marriage expectations in society have changed from the past to present and is still expected to change in the future, Stereotypes are present but we at abppatropatri believe that it needs trust and understanding from both sides to make the marriage and relationship into a successful pillar.

  2. Urs Jina: I know what you mean by playing that balancing act. There still are things that you probably cant do in front of in-laws as they wont just change overnight…but the relationship is really over hyped and that's the prime reason for me to have a nervous attack every time I come face-to-face with my in-laws

  3. i think this entire creation of “monster in laws” is a very k serial factor. I guess the MIL harrasing and plotting against the DIL :)is really overhyped. In real life, as you mentioned they are quite different and nice 🙂

    Lovely write up..

  4. aah..tell me about it..Im going thru exactly the same phenomena and on the verge of pulling my hair out..I try to balance between being 'me' and being the perfect daughter in law and somewhere down the line is slowly realizing..its not exactly possible..
    And thanks to my stars the hype doesnt exactly play around in my equation with inlaws..they are sober than most of the fictional characters in movies,books and magazines

  5. Hi there – Actually you don't have any reasons to be jittery. whatever reasons you tld, u have all answers figured up already! So Just calm down and 'njoy yr mother-in-law prep food. 🙂

    Nice Post!

  6. Don't blame you buddy. Its been more than 2 years when my in-laws first came visiting …and i still remember each and every detail of that visit (pre and post included). 2 and a 1/2 years of marriage and half a dozen visit later i still get all jittery when they are about to visit.

    I guess its because we have grown up hearing so many horror stories about dis-approving M-i-Ls that we can't accept that maybe our's aren't that critical and are maybe the next-gen in-laws who do treat their daughter-in-laws like their own family (not above their beloved sons though :-))

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